After all that paradise it was time to get down to work. The meeting that brought me here is the administrative board meeting and annual general assembly of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (which goes under its French acronym of AICESIS). The meeting is being held at the UN’s headquarters, in parallel with a session of the UN’s ECOSOC. After the board meeting the assembly kicked off with speeches from ECOSOC’s President, Hamidon Ali, and the UN’s Deputy Secretary General, Philippe Douste-Blazy, and then we got down to work, debating such themes as the role of our institutions and organisations in the light of economic, social and environmental trends and developing concepts of world governance. Two events occurred in parallel with our meeting. One was a visit of Queen Elizabeth II, triggering tight security. The other, more prosaically, was the World Cup semi-final between Uruguay and the Netherlands. The South African mission has offered the UN a giant screen to view matches for the duration of the competition, and in our conference room we could hear the cheers greeting each goal! Hats off to the winners, of course, but it does seem a shame to have an all-European final.